Policy / Systems / Technology

May 9, 2010


Hitachi Launches R&D on Rare Earth Magnet Recycling

Keywords: Environmental Technology Manufacturing industry Reduce / Reuse / Recycle 

Hitachi Ltd., a leading general electronics manufacturer in Japan, announced the launch of a project to develop rare earth magnet recycling technologies, on December 14, 2009. The project is sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, designated as a project to promote recycling of new resources in FY 2009. It aims to establish a technology for recycling rare earth metals from urban mines, such as high-performance magnet motors.

Rare earth magnets made from alloys of iron and rare earth elements, such as neodymium and dysprosium, are strong and heat-resistant, despite their small size. Demand for rare earth magnet is increasing, as they are crucial for the manufacture products necessary for a low-carbon society. These products include hard disk drives in PCs, IT devices, high-performance motors needed for factory automation, wind turbines for power generation, high-efficiency air conditioners or washing machines, and the drive motors of hybrid cars.

However, as China currently produces 97 percent of the world's rare earth metals, these metals may become more difficult to obtain as demand increases. Moreover, conventional recycling technologies have problems with regard to cost and environmental conservation, as they require wastewater treatment and generate ferrioxide as a waste material.

Hitachi plans to start developing devices to separate and collect rare earth magnets from magnetic motors, and will explore technologies for recycling used magnets. The company expects to launch its recycling business in 2013 after finishing calculations on the total cost of the business.

Hitachi Ltd. global website

Posted: 2010/05/09 06:00:15 AM